Law firm Vertex drives deal to develop old paper mill

Jeremy Licence of Vertex Law
Jeremy Licence of Vertex Law

by Trevor Sturgess

A Kent law firm played a key role in the sale of a 14-acre site that heralds a new phase in Sittingbourne’s regeneration.

The site has stood empty since M-real ceased papermaking operations three years ago.

London property company Essential Land has bought the brownfield site from M-real UK Services in a deal brokered by property agents Strutt & Parker and legal experts Vertex Law, based in Kings Hill, West Malling.

There are plans to build shops and houses on the site.

"The successful redevelopment of Sittingbourne Mill is crucial for the regeneration of Sittingbourne and its infrastructure," said Vertex Law’s Jeremy Licence. "It covers a large area of ground and sits in a very strategic location.

"As with many of the brownfield sites that we handle, Sittingbourne Mill has a long and complicated history so there was a lot of information to amass before the deal could go through. There were also a number of linked transactions that had to be managed in parallel with the sale of the main site.

"Now that the deal is done, though, I hope that the new owners will be able to proceed quickly with a planning application to Swale Borough Council."

The sale includes the three kilometre service corridor that originally linked the mill with Ridham Dock. The operations of the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway, which uses part of the route, are not affected by the change of ownership.

M-real spokesman David Scudder added: "We worked with Vertex Law over a long period of time to prepare for and negotiate the eventual sale of the site. They were always a step ahead in terms of what needed to be done and their clear and pragmatic advice helped us to steer through some difficult issues and ensure a successful sale."

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